The march of Lame Devils in La Vega is the oldest and most colorful carnival in the Dominican Republic. A lame devil is diablo cojuelo, named so because when he was banished from heaven to earth, he fell in a bad way and got a limp.
Carnaval was brought to Dominican Republic by the Spanish in the early 16th century and blended with Taino and African customs. Because of the mixture of traditions, this carnival celebration is very original. Different regions of Dominican Republic have specific rituals and customs connected to the folklore of that particular region.
In La Vega, the celebration is considered the most beautiful on the island. The tiny provincial town transforms itself into a lively capital of the festival, the processions are famous for their colorful and elaborate costumes, decorated with ribbons, bells, mirrors and other accessories.
Masks are the main feature of all carnival costumes. The signature character of La Vega carnival is the Lame Devil, so the masks are made to look especially grotesque and scary, with wild horns and fancy features. Those who wear the masks of the devil have to hobble about the streets, hitting people with inflated cow or pig bladders and whips, and playing pranks on the attendees. Besides the devils, you have duck-faced monsters, toros, and other horn-headed creatures. The masks of La Vega are unmistakable, because they are the most frightening among the carnival masks of the country.
The festivities occur every weekend during the month of February, ending on the last Sunday of the month.